Mom, am I pretty? and other questions my teen girls ask me
My daughter has always been a “princess.”
When she was three-years-old she had a frilly blue “Cinderella” dress. She would twirl around singing princess songs, telling us how beautiful she was. Her dad and I loved her confidence.
Yet things would change as she left the house--all of her confidence would drain and tantrums would arise as she analyzed her hair and shoes, certain everything was less than perfect.
“Mom, am I pretty?” (Yes, she was asking this at age three.)
I wondered if it was my fault. Had I turned my princess who loved dress-up into the fairy monster? Or was this her way of being seen in the midst of her two younger siblings?
Thankfully, this phase subsided…for awhile.
Hello Adolescence and Insecurity
Fast forward to adolescence. Now we’re in the midst of pimples, changing bodies, and her asserting her independence.
Once again I hear her panicked voice asking, “Mom, am I pretty?”
The old insecurities are back. And now her younger sister, who has never been concerned about her looks, is also asking the same questions.
“Am I fat?”
“Am I ugly?”
Media and friends are pulling at them to have the right skin, the right weight, the right clothes. It's a constant tug-of-war.
As their mom, I struggle with self-image, too
I know they see my own struggle with insecurity. I’ve read all the articles that tell me to assert a positive self-image in front of my girls--if they don’t see me struggling, they won’t either. Yet I know they’ve caught me whispering, “Do I look old?” in my husband’s ear.
At some point we all over-analyze the person in the mirror. We think, “If I can just make my complexion clearer, my cheeks more rosy, my [fill in the blank], then I will finally be pretty.
Someone will notice me. I will be seen.
The problem is that we’ll always see flaws. The moment Adam and Eve took a bite of that fruit and figured out they were naked--that’s the moment we started to see our flawed selves.
There's only one true cure for insecurity, and it's not in the mirror
There’s only one way to see something better: take on the image of Christ.
My pastor explained it so eloquently: when we come to the cross, we give Jesus all of our sin. We also give him our insecurities and self-image. We lay it all down and take on his image.
So, how do I take on the person of Christ and teach my daughters to do the same? How do I help my daughters look in the mirror and see their beauty in Christ when voices around them are saying they are at best “plain?”
Personally I want to stop standing near my daughters and just hoping they’ll see a true reflection of themselves. It’s time to get involved. It’s time to teach them how to see what Christ sees (while I’m in the process of learning--and relearning--it myself).
The moment has come to learn who we are in Christ. Amazing. Gorgeous. Whole. Just Right.
Do you have any tips for teaching teens how to see themselves in the image of Christ? Share them here!